But then this morning I see that US stock futures are up above 16,000 and that we are now supposed to shrug off Wall Street worries. Confused? Me too, so I asked Dr. Rajesh Narayan, an international banking expert and Cameron Professor of Finance at LSU to come in to the Think Tank and help clear some of this up.
"The world is not going to end tomorrow, but I think we are in a holding pattern and these are the symptoms of coming out of that pattern. You're seeing high levels of volatility and what the media often refers to are these tantrums in the stock market or bond market, reactions to what the Fed says about it's monetary policies. The markets are desparate for signs of growth and they're finding that difficult to come by."
The American economy is doing better than most, so why is our federal reserve concerned about problems in Europe?
"Not much is happening by way of growth in Europe. There's political change in France and Italy. Germany is on the verge of a recession. Spain has unemployment rates in the double digits. These big economies in Europe are not showing the signs of growth we'd like to see five or six years after the crisis, and that depresses global demand considerably."
Dr. Narayan helped me conclude that things are probably going to be okay. Click the link below to listen to our full conversation:
Are fears about the Ebola virus becoming a worldwide pandemic warranted or not?
After today's news that Thomas Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US died in the Dallas hospital where he was being kept, do you trust that our healthcare system can prevent it from spreading across America?
From the beginning of the Ebola outbreak we were told not to worry about it here in America. Our healthcare infrastructure would stop any spread of the virus. Now headlines warn --stop Ebola before it turns in a Pandemic (as in a disease that spreads all over the world)! This leads to the old question: who do you trust?
A Spanish nurse who treated two missionaries with the disease has now come down with Ebola too - and authorities in Europe want to make sure her dog doesn't have it!
I've tried to avoid talking about Ebola on "The Think Tank" so far because it seemed to me like maybe it was too much hype - but now I gotta wonder. To better understand it, I invted Dr. Scott Gottleib from the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. Fred Lopez from the LSU Health Sciences Center to come on and explain it to me. Even with these experts telling me what they know, I'm still a little confused.
Take a listen to our conversation by clicking the link below:
The simple answer might be no. A new study from Tulane University says many in unprotected areas will be forced from their homes, and that parish and state leaders don't have any idea how or where to relocate them.
I started talking about this in 1970 and ended up doing 16 documentaries about wetlands loss all over the world. In the last 9 or 10 years here we've talked about it much more, but one thing nobody will ever say on the record is that some towns, some communities in southeast Louisiana will have to be abandoned, but of course, politically, you can't say that.
The study is an overview of what happens when towns need to move, what powers the goverment can use to move communities, and a view of who is in harm's way right here in our own backyard.
So are Louisiana residents outside our levee system tragically out of luck? "If you are in these communities and you are in harm's way, you need to be thinking about this. A lot of people don't want to talk about it, don't want to think about moving, about retreating, but we are losing this battle. You've got to have a Plan B," said Christopher Dalbom, Program Manager of the Institute of Water Resources Law and Policy at Tulane.
The study also found that moving communties and relocating residents is not easy to do; when it has been attempted, it has not always had happy outcomes and it can be very expensive. Senior Research Fellow Mark David says "If we want that to be a part of what we want to do, we need to think about that now, and not later, when the need to move becomes more imminent. The other lesson is that if you don't want to face relocation, you can at least improve your options now by elevating your homes and making smarter construction decisions. That can put us more back in the driver's seat."
"If you're 75 and living in southern Terrbonne Parish, maybe you won't see your town go underwater. But if you're 15, there's a pretty good chance that you will."
This coversation is mega-important for us to have, and have now. Not tomorrow. Click the link below to listen to the whole conversation.
Why are women who are raped and sexually assaulted receiving huge hospital bills for medical treatment they received after the crime?
It may be hard to believe, but it seems to be true. Our esteemed state leaders have been sending hospital bills to make rape & sexual assault victims pay for being victims. From a father's view, when I hear this, I am horrified.
Who would not see that this is beyond wrong? Why are we essentially financially raping women who've been raped?
To better understand this, I invited Mary Clare Landrieu, Executive Director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center and State Representative Helena Moreno on to explain exactly why this is happening. Am I reading this right?
"Yes, unfortunately.. with some of the changes that have occured in Louisiana with the privatization of public hospitals, expenses that were borne by the state were absorbed, and now with some of the private hospitals taking over, what we're seeing is adult sexual assault victims are beginning to receive bills for some of those services. The actual forensic exams and rape kits are still being covered by the hospitals, but it's some of the ancillary test results and HIV testing and medications that they may have to receive that now are emergency room charges."
So this is a new problem?
"It's been in the last year... some of the billing procedures and policies are more related to some of the private hospitals. There is definitely Federal legislation that says medical care related to forensic sexual assault should be covered by the state, but we think at all the care should be included in this and that rape victims should not be experiencing those costs."
This is just totally unbelievable. To all you fathers out there, save your money. Make sure you have $4,000 ready in case your daughter gets raped.
To hear the full conversation, click the link below.
Should the Ebola virus be a major concern to America and us Americans?
What about the CDC's initial concerns over critically ill crew members on a ship headed to New Orleans? The Marine Phoenix spent a short time in Panama and the Democratic Republic of Congo before docking in Belle Chasse for inspection. Medical experts said there were concerns about possible symptoms of malaria; and caution about Ebola. We know now that the risk of a widespread malaria outbreak is very low. That's a relief, but is anyone else confused?
So first, we're told Ebola could be contained in Africa. Then we were assured Ebola poses no threat to America. But we're told also being told that Ebola is a warning for an unprepared America. What or who should we believe?
This morning we started "The Think Tank" with two enlightening interviews. We were joined by Dr. Scott Gottleib, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dr. Fred Lopez, an infectious diseases expert from the LSU Health Sciences Center. Click the link below to listen to our conversations. And don't forget to think about it!
Are you ready to put troops back on the ground in the Middle East?
The latest polls shows 2/3rds of Americans back attacking ISIS militants and almost 1/3rd are ready to deploy troops. We’ve spent two trillion dollars getting the current results.
Are you ready to go again? To help me clear up some of the questions about how and where we're going to fight these people, I invited Hayes Brown, World Editor for Think Progress.org and Justin Logan of the Cato Institute to join us, and they really opened my eyes.
We know that ISIS is using American military equipment that they took from Iraqi soldiers, but where is their money coming from? We've talked a big game over the last decade about de-funding terrorists, so why can't we freeze their bank accounts? The answer I got will surprise you - or maybe not!
Click the link below to listen to the full podcast.
The situation is desperate. In an article written for Medium.com, Brett Anderson explains how the iconic "boot" shape of the Bayou State may be outdated. If you re-drew the maps today and only included solid ground, you'd end up with something that looks radically different from I-12 all the way to the Gulf.
I've been saying it for forty years - we're gonna lose it all if we don't do something. Aren't humans interesting? We'll sit there and listen to people tell us our hair is on fire but until we actually see a side-by-side comparison we don't understand what the stakes really are.
Yet our leaders still don’t agree what to do. Why? Many in Louisiana’s fishing industry say efforts to save our coastline depend too much on diversions and not enough on dredging. State officials say they’re totally wrong, in fact much more money is going into dredging. To try to get a little bit of perspective, I invited newly promoted Chair of the CPRA (Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority), Jerome Zeringue to explain the details.
After the NATO summit, President Obama declared: ISIS must be dismantled, not just contained. He said NATO agrees, and the international coalition needs to take immediate action against ISIS.
And, what if ISIS has the ability to engage in chemical weapons of mass destruction? A computer left behind in a Syrian firefight contains instructions about how to make a bomb to distribute bubonic plague. The computer was owned by an identified member of ISIS. If this type of bomb is possible, does it change the way we fight ISIS? As in, boots on the ground?
Take a listen to the full show from this morning, it's fascinating stuff.
As the war over illegal immigration heats up, we hear more and more calls for "closing the border.”
These calls follow years of both sides saying we couldn't build a 650-mile fence on our southern border. So once again the question is; if we want to close the, border how do we do it?
To try to get some answers we called FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) Spokesman Bob Dane and Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian.
How did we get here?
Like many pundits and analysts, Bob agreed right off the bat that Obama has not done enough to secure the border, but added "our lax enforcment goes back several administations, left and right... but when the President took office he took about the task of sytematically dismantling most interior and perimeter enforcement to such an extent that we find ourselves living in a bizarre new world of thinking about immigration enforcement.. simply violating immigration laws in and of themselves appears to be entirely inconsequential."
Is it even possible to "close the border?" Should we?
Krikorian said "We have a much better handle on the border than we used to. The reason for the current crisis is that we are letting them in, giving them papers and then letting them go. That's almost not even a border security issue, that's this administation not even attempting to maintain a border."
I didn't let anybody off easy today. I need to understand this - we have built 670 miles of border fencing and can't even get an estimated figure for what it would take to do the whole thing. There's no money for that, there's no proposal for that. So where are the answers?
“Neurocriminology” is a whole new field of research that deals with minds of violent criminals. The big question -- how much of who we are and what we do -- is because of our brain chemicals? Through years of hosting the "Think Tank" and anchoring and reporting TV news, I’ve learned if you simply raise that question, you get one response from scientists and another from the general public. Scientists say, “our actions are based on environment and very little chemistry.” The general public pounces, “you’re one of those liberals, who wants to find more reasons to go easy on violent criminals!”
No, no, no. Not a liberal. You can’t put me in one of your boxes. My questions are based on common sense. So, let me ask you; if violent, schizophrenic people are made calm by a pill or injection, isn’t that a chemical change, not environmental? If depressed people snap out of moderate or even severe depression by taking pills that influence neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine… is that not chemical too?
Let’s look at the other common sense aspect of this. We can no longer afford the largest prison system in the world. If we hate additional taxes, if we hate government bureaucracy, shouldn’t we be looking for ways to reduce costs, crime and recidivism? To me the question is simple. Do we pay for a cell (for years, if not decades or a lifetime)… or a pill to change brain chemistry?
The author of “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime,” Adrian Raine asks: “If bad brains do cause bad behavior, if brain dysfunction raises the odds that somebody will become a criminal offender – a violent offender – and if the cause of the brain dysfunction comes relatively early in life… should we fully hold that adult individual responsible?”
We’re not talking about brain chemicals being destiny. We’re considering an option that is currently not part of the discussion about crime and criminals. Just another possible solution to a problem we have to solve, because the current situation is unsustainable.
There is some slight evidence to support the brain chemsitry/criminal activity relation. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70s lead was everywhere. Gas, paint, and even in the soil. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s violent crime went up in America. Then, in the 90’s (and continuing today) violent crime started to come down. Some scientists believe the prevalence of lead in the environment, and the subsequent removal of lead from that environment, may have been a major factor in both the increase and the decrease of crime during that time period. Lead removal became a national campaign in the 70’s. Scientists tell us, in fact, if you map environmental lead levels over time, lead can explain 91% of those violent crime changes.
Let’s look at this in simple, every day terms. If someone meets you for the first time and you’re suffering from a headache, that person may label you grumpy or distracted. Maybe even label you a bad guy or lady. Not a person they or society want to deal with. If you take medication for that headache, you may revert back to your pleasant, amiable self. Did the person meet a bad guy, a good guy or simply a person who had not changed his brain chemistry?
It’s just a thought. No reason to cling to dogma. No reason to get angry. No reason not to look for needed answers.